Churchill Downs has 34 stakes races on its spring schedule

Churchill Downs has 34 stakes races on its spring schedule

Coady Photography/Churchill Downs

Pair of Arlington Stakes Moved to Churchill Downs

Churchill Downs schedules 34 stakes races for spring meet.

As strange as it sounds, the Chicago Handicap (G3) will be contested at Churchill Downs this season as the seven-furlong race for fillies and mares planned for June 24, as well as the Matron Handicap (G3), for fillies and mares going 1 1/8 miles on the main track set for May 20, will both be moved this year from Arlington International Racecourse.

Both Churchill and Arlington are owned by Churchill Downs Inc. Arlington announced Feb. 3 the two grade 3 stakes would be dropped from its schedule in 2017 as more money there is committed to overnight purses.

"We're very happy to add a pair of stakes events from Arlington Park that would otherwise have gone on hiatus at our sister track and look forward to welcoming horsemen and owners from throughout the Midwest and beyond to compete in those races and all of the special events on our spring meet stakes schedule," said Churchill racing secretary Ben Huffman.

The addition of the two Arlington stakes lifted total stakes purses offered during the upcoming meet by $200,000 from the $8.64 million offered during the 2016 spring meet.

The 143rd editions of the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) and the $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) are the biggest events on the roster of 35 stakes races that offer $8.84 million in total purses scheduled during Churchill Downs racetrack's 38-day spring meet in 2017.

"We're very pleased with the stakes schedule Churchill Downs has assembled for the 2017 spring meet and we hope our horsemen in Kentucky and throughout North America will share in our enthusiasm," Huffman said. "Our racing programs for Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks Days continue to rank among the most lucrative in American racing, and our overall stakes program offers attractive options in almost every racing division."

The 2017 spring racing session will be launched by an "Opening Night" racing extravaganza Saturday, April 29, presented by Stella Artois and Old Forester, and will conclude with racing under the lights Friday, June 30. 

The schedule is highlighted by three multi-stakes programs with total purses in excess of $1 million among nine racing programs that feature two or more stakes races. The Kentucky Derby heads a powerhouse line-up of seven stakes events on Saturday, May 6 that features three grade 1 events and total purses of $4.15 million. The Kentucky Oaks day program on the eve of Derby Day offers six stakes events with combined purses of $2.2 million. 

The "Downs After Dark" program under the lights on Saturday, June 17, presented Stella Artois and El Jimador, features the $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) for 3-year-olds and up which tops a roster of five stakes contests with total purses of $1.1 million.

Of the 35 stakes races set for the meet, six have been designated as grade 1 events by the American Graded Stakes Committee of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association. Along with the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks and Stephen Foster Handicap, the roster of grade 1 events includes the $500,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic for 4-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles on grass, the $300,000 Humana Distaff for fillies and mares 4-year-olds and up at seven furlongs, and the $300,000 La Troienne Presented by Spirited Funds, a 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares 4-year-olds and up.
          
The schedule includes seven stakes races designated as grade 2 events, 12 grade 3 stakes races and one listed contest. Thirteen of the graded stakes are scheduled to be run over the Matt Winn Turf Course.

Eighteen of the 35 races on the Spring Meet stakes schedule will be run during the six racing days of Kentucky Derby Week that open the meet.

Churchill Downs 2017 Spring Meet Stakes Schedule

April 29-June 30

Date Race (w/Purse & Grade) Age & Gender Distance Course
Sat., April 29 Opening Night Presented by Stella Artois and Old Forester      
  $100,000 William Walker 3YO 6 Furlongs Dirt
  $65,000-added Roxelana Overnight Stakes F & M 3YO & Up 6 Furlongs Dirt
Thurs., May 4 Thurby      
  $100,000 Kentucky Juvenile 2YO 5 Furlongs Dirt
  $65,000-added Opening Verse Overnight Stakes 3YO & Up 1 Mile Turf
Fri., May 5 Kentucky Oaks Day      
  $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) 3YO Fillies 1 1/8 Miles Dirt
  $300,000 La Troienne Presented by Spirited Funds (G1) F & M 4YO & Up 1 1/16 Miles Dirt
  $400,000 Alysheba (G2) 4YO & Up 1 1/16 Miles Dirt
  $200,000 Eight Belles (G2) 3YO Fillies 7 Furlongs Dirt
  $150,000 Edgewood Presented by Forcht Bank (G3) 3YO Fillies 1 1/16 Miles Turf
  $150,000 Twin Spires Turf Sprint (G3) 3YO & Up 5 Furlongs Turf
Sat., May 6 Kentucky Derby Day      
  $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) 3YO 1 1/4 Miles Dirt
  $500,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1) 4YO & Up 1 1/8 Miles Turf
  $300,000 Humana Distaff (G1) F & M 4YO & Up 7 Furlongs Dirt
  $500,000 Churchill Downs (G2) 4YO & Up 7 Furlongs Dirt
  $300,000 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Presented by Longines (G2) F & M 4YO & Up 1 Mile Turf
  $300,000 American Turf Presented by Ram Trucks (G2) 3YO 1 1/16 Miles Turf
  $250,000 Pat Day Mile Presented by LG&E and KU (G3) 3YO 1 Mile Dirt
Sat., May 13 $65,000-added Unbridled Sydney Overnight Stakes 3YO & Up 5 Furlongs Turf
Sat., May 20 Preakness Stakes Simulcast      
  $100,000 Louisville Handicap (G3) 3YO & Up 1 1/2 Miles Turf
  $100,000 Matron (G3) F & M 3YO & Up 1 1/8 Miles Dirt
Sat., May 27 $100,000 Winning Colors (G3) 3YO & Up 6 Furlongs Dirt
  $65,000-added Keertana Overnight Stakes F & M 3YO & Up 1 1/2 Miles Turf
Sat., June 3 $100,000 Aristides (G3) 3YO & Up 6 Furlongs Dirt
  $65,000-added Mighty Beau Overnight Stakes 3YO & Up 5 Furlongs Turf
Sat., June 10 Belmont Stakes Simulcast      
  $100,000 Old Forester Mint Julep (G3) F & M 3YO & Up 1 1/16 Miles Turf
Sat., June 17 Downs After Dark Presented by Stella Artois and El Jimador      
  $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) 3YO & Up 1 1/8 Miles Dirt
  $200,000 Wise Dan (G2) 3YO & Up 1 1/16 Miles Turf
  $200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap (G2) F & M 3YO & Up 1 1/8 Miles Dirt
  $100,000 Matt Winn (G3) 3YO 1 1/16 Miles Dirt
  $100,000 Regret (G3) 3YO Fillies 1 1/8 Miles Turf
Sat., June 24 $100,000 Chicago Handicap (G3) F & M 3YO & Up 7 Furlongs Dirt
Fri., June 30 Downs After Dark Presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia Vodka      
  $100,000 Bashford Manor (G3) 2YO 6 Furlongs Dirt
  $100,000 Debutante (Listed) 2YO Fillies 6 Furlongs Dirt
  $65,000-added Kelly's Landing Overnight Stakes 3YO & Up 7 Furlongs Dirt